The Victoria and South Island Divisions of Family Practice, in collaboration with Shared Care, are offering eight-week Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Skills Groups for adult patients (17.5-75 years old) who want to learn practical tools to improve their mental health. The CBT Skills Group program is a transdiagnostic course that integrates basic neuroscience teaching with introductory mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy skills and concepts. Patients learn practical tools to recognize, understand and manage patterns of feeling, thinking and behaving. They learn to be conscious of their choices as they respond to life stressors, and explore options for living a fuller, richer life, more aligned with what they value most. The group is part of a project that fosters collaboration between family medicine and psychiatry, and enables people to access an intervention covered by MSP.
UPDATE: CBT Skills Groups are being offered every 2-4 months with the next set of groups starting in January, 2017. Please continue to refer your patients to this program.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is usually a short-term form of therapy with a focus on helping an individual become more aware of patterns of thinking (cognitions), feeling (emotions) and behaving. These patterns represent the unique biochemical functioning of your brain, and reflect how your brain has adapted and responded to earlier life events. However, exploring those early events is not the focus of CBT; rather, the focus is examining the way in which your response to a situation in the here-and-now can be modified to bring about positive change.
As you will learn in this course, the interaction between these three aspects of our responses (thoughts, feelings, and behaviours) is powerful and frequently unrecognized.
Here is a simple illustration of how our thoughts about an event can affect how we feel and act. Imagine you awake to the phone ringing in the early morning hours. If your thought is that you are getting bad news about a relative who is sick, you may be sad and fearful. If your thought is that your work is calling to ask you to come in early, you may be irritated. If your thought is that your daughter is calling to tell you she arrived at the airport early, you may be surprised and happy. The same event can lead to many different reactions depending on our interpretation. CBT skills can help us become more aware of our interpretations and develop more flexible and helpful habits of thought and behavior.
The CBT Skills Training Groups use CBT as a basis to teach you various skills. You will learn about how your emotions work, and how these are connected to your thoughts and your behaviours. Understanding these connections will help you to work more effectively with yourself - with your mind/brain and also your body sensations - especially when you are having problems associated with depression and anxiety. You can continue to use the skills you learn long after the course has been completed - acting as a coach to yourself.
What is the evidence that CBT works?
Cognitive-behavioural therapy has been extensively researched in a wide range of psychiatric disorders. In a broad summary of the literature (Butler et al, 2006), CBT alone was found to be an effective treatment for depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder along with other disorders. CBT can also improve outcomes when delivered in conjunction with medication, especially when depression is more severe, and has been shown to reduce relapse and recurrence of depression (Segal et al, 2002).
Butler et al. The empirical analysis of cognitive-behavioural therapy: A review of meta-analyses. Clinical Psychology Review 2006;26:17–31.
Segal et al. Efficacy of combined, sequential and crossover psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy in improving outcomes in depression. J Psychiatry Neurosci 2002;27(4):281-90.